They moved into an apartment in San Antonio and then a house one block from the interstate. “I just had this idea in my head that if I can work my way into this wealth and status, then it won’t matter that I’m undocumented,” she says. There was so much ambiguity in my life that I really appreciated that.” Antonia Bernal, a leader of the Hispanic Business Student Association that Arce joined, describes her at the time as vibrant and driven.
Sitting at her desk at Goldman Sachs, Julissa Arce is doing her best to keep it together. Her father is dying in Taxco de Alarcón, a small and hilly city in Mexico, and she has just hung up after a call from her sister with bad news.Arce stands and leaves the row where she and her colleagues create derivatives and market them to rich people.When the cart lost its spot, Arce couldn’t land a new job with her expired tourist visa. Getting a fake green card turned out to be unexpectedly simple.She confessed her need to a suite-mate, who connected her to her boyfriend, who introduced her to a woman, who asked her to come to her home.She does Cross Fit and can hold 150 pounds behind her head.
“You have to have a very A-type personality,” she says about weightlifting, sipping a beer in Ulysses, a bar three blocks south of Wall Street.
It was a mundane transaction, Arce says, in an average apartment with an average living room.
She handed over the money, had her picture taken, and about two weeks later had the forged documents. Arce used them to land customer service work on nights and weekends for a debit card company in Austin and interned for a Major League Soccer team.
When she followed up with a handwritten thank-you card at the end of the summer, the managing director told her to expect good news.
A sharp kind of dread sank in after Goldman offered her a full-time position.
She told him she had learned a lot and was ready for something faster.